HTC’s Vive Pro Will Add More Pixels To An Otherwise Familiar Looking VR System [Updated]

Nearly two years after the launch of the HTC Vive virtual reality system, its creators have finally revealed a hardware revision for the headset: the HTC Vive Pro. The naming convention hints at what to expect. The refreshed headset, which currently has no price, will arrive in "Q1" of 2018, and it adds one huge upgrade (and a few small ones) to an otherwise familiar-looking Vive.

During a CES 2018 press conference, HTC confirmed details from a leak earlier on Monday. The leak indicated that the Vive Pro's screen will include a combined resolution of 2880x1600 pixels. That's a 78-percent jump from the original Vive headset's screen resolution of 2160x1200.

The new headset also includes built-in headphones, a new strap to "improve balance," a second microphone to assist with noise-cancellation features, a second "stereo" outward-facing camera, and reduced headset weight. HTC hasn't disclosed exactly how much lighter it will be.

  • If the original Vive's boring-gray color did nothing for you, try this shiny shade of blue.
  • We're curious how the new stereo forward-facing cameras will be utilized by future VR games and apps.
  • Vive Pro's reveal included unclear animations that hint at a more comfortable fit.
  • Will the lenses receive improvements other than a 78-percent boost in resolution? For example, redesigned lenses? HTC didn't clarify.
  • Snazzy.
  • So blue.
  • How much better will these sound than 2017's HTC Vive Audio Strap headphones? We look forward to finding out.
  • VR headsets... in... spaaaaace.
  • Old HTC Vive wands, not the newer SteamVR "Knuckles" prototype.

We'll have to wait and see whether the Pro's headset fit or built-in audio offer significant improvements over last year's headphone-strap release, or whether the Pro's lenses or other elements receive noticeable upgrades. We know that the new device will default as a wired VR system, however, and we can almost certainly confirm that it will not offer an improved field-of-view (FOV). That's thanks to the new resolution conforming to the original Vive's resolution ratio.

Sources indicate to Ars that the improved resolution will pay off particularly well for apps such as training simulations. HTC hasn't yet mentioned increased PC-spec requirements for this newer, higher-res Vive, however. The company is equally recalcitrant about whether the Vive Pro will use any resolution-smoothing tricks for weaker PCs.

In good news for resolution-hungry owners of the original, HTC confirmed that the Vive Pro will be available in a headset-only SKU and that it will remain compatible with existing HTC Vive tracking boxes and wands. The full Vive Pro bundle—which will ship with "2.0" versions of the base tracking stations—will launch at a later date. (The Vive Pro will also support a tracking-area boost of up to 10 meters squared, which requires four 2.0 base stations.)

HTC did not mention if or whether the company would begin manufacturing improved HTC Vive controllers or whether they would work off of Valve's "Knuckles" spec for a new SteamVR controller. The Knuckles do not, as of yet, have a confirmed public release. (Perhaps the full Vive Pro bundle, with controllers and tracking boxes, will include a controller upgrade, but HTC is remaining mum for now.)

HTC began hinting at the Vive Pro last week by posting "new year, new resolution" messages on social media and within the company's SteamVR "Home" hub.

Additionally, HTC announced plans to release its own Vive Wireless Adapter, which, like the TPCast, will plug into a Vive-equipped computer to broadcast its video signal wirelessly. HTC's version will employ Intel's WiGig wireless-transmission protocol, as opposed to TPCast's use of a different  60GHz standard. Coincidentally, TPCast has already announced plans at this year's CES to produce a TPCast Plus suite of hardware, which promises improvements such as microphone support and various tweaks to how it handles wireless data.

CES appears to have other players in the wireless-VR space, as well, and we'll do our best at Ars to cover or go hands on with any promising VR demos, especially any with the HTC Vive Pro.

Update: Shortly after the Vive Pro's reveal, HTC posted a spec-loaded product page which answers a few more questions about the product. As assumed, its FOV remains the same as the original Vive, at 110 degrees, and its new attached headphones are removable, should you prefer to use your own. Its default data connection will change from USB Type-A to USB Type-C, and an updated face cushion includes a new "petal"-styled nose flap. Meanwhile, the Pro's official description hints at an updated "VR chaperone" system, which could benefit from the new pair of front-facing cameras to better map a user's surroundings.

The article has been updated to correct an error about meters squared.

Source : https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2018/01/htcs-vive-pro-will-add-more-pixels-to-an-otherwise-familiar-looking-vr-system/

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